Steven Wilson - The Future Bites

ExplorerExplorer England
edited March 28 in Year-2021

The 'go to' Prog Rock musician going out on a limb with an album still showing its prog roots, but giving it a makeover with the sounds of Dance, Pop and Ambient soundscapes.

Steven Wilson - 2021 The Future Bites
ARTIST: Steven Wilson
ALBUM: The Future Bites
LABEL: Caroline International
SERIAL: CAROL021CD
YEAR: 2021

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: Steven Wilson - vocals, guitars, keyboards * David Kosten - keyboards* Adam Holzman - keyboards * Nick Beggs - bass, chapman stick * Michael Spearman - drums * Richard Barbieri - keyboards * Wendy Harriot, Bobbie Gordon, Crystal Williams - background vocals * Sir Elton John - guest vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Unself * 02 Self * 03 King Ghost * 04 12 Things I Forgot * 05 Eminent Sleaze * 06 Man Of The People * 07 Personal Shopper * 08 Follower * 09 Count Of Unease

RATING: Score=95%
WEBLINKS: Site Link | FB Page

Background

His sixth studio album, 'The Future Bites' was originally slated for release on June 12th 2020, but was delayed due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and finally got its release Friday, January 29th 2021.

Steven Wilson has long been one of the most adventurous as well as controversial artists in modern art/progressive rock. From his work with Porcupine Tree, I.E.M, Storm Corrosion, Bass Communion, No Man and Blackfield, which all cover a myriad of musical as well as alongside the unpredictable nature of his past few solo albums.

And it's for this reason that Wilson will always challenge and reinvent and that truly makes him a progressive musician, and this new album is no different.

The Songs

It's essentially a concept album that revolves around a post-apocalyptic vision of an overly materialist society, so with that out of the way, it's onto the songs themselves.

Well specifically it sees him fully embracing his well documented affection for 1980's Synthpop and electronic music more than ever before, something which he has dabbled with on some of his previous releases.

The short intro, 'Unself' is stark and bleak which makes way for 'Self' that immediately takes on a dance rhythm coupled with a hushed vocal that's quite unsettling, but then utilised the female backing vocalists to great effect, something that Pink Floyd have done so well in the past.

'King Ghost' is quite possibly akin to a more surreal and unsettling offshoot of something that could have come off his previous album 'To the Bone', and is a hypnotic walk through the world of electronica.

'12 Things I Forgot' is a quite beautiful, simple melodic song that harks back to his many acoustic guitar tracks giving it an air of real nostalgia.

'Eminent Sleaze' with its infectious funk bass lines and intoxicating female backing vocals, is a dream, and 'Man of the People' is very reminiscent of the works of Talk, Talk with its sparse arrangement and wonderfully melancholic vocal from Wilson.

'Personal Shopper' is the longest track here, and is quite rightly the album centrepiece, with bizarrely, self-confessed shopaholic Elton John reading out a shopping list of unnecessary luxury items, which ties in perfectly with the albums theme. It's essentially an upbeat dance/ pop track with trance elements, with a bridge that hints at psychedelia, and the accompanying video is quite something to behold.

'Follower' has, to my ears a touch of Sparks about it with its pulsating rock/dance hybrid and semi falsetto vocals, a la Russell Mael, and album closer 'Count of Unease' is a poignant and yet understated confession that's right in line with past Wilson album finales.

This album does take a fair few listens to bring out all of the subtle nuances that Wilson is adept at doing. Production-wise, again as with Wilson it's of the highest quality and compliments perfectly the music.

In Summary

This album sees Wilson doing what he's always done, and that's challenge, and rather than abandon who he is which is very much a single-minded artist and one with a sharp socio-political eye as well.

His objective, I believe has always been to test himself as an artist, which inherently means that he may gain and lose fans along the way. The alternative of course being for him to repeat himself, and I just don't think that's in his makeup.

For some of his fans, and I'm very much one, this will probably be seen as too much of a departure, but I think this album deserves applause for preserving Wilson's integrity and creativity, even if it's his most, intentionally perhaps divisive collection to date.

Streaming Links

Amazon Music Unlimited
Apple Music
Spotify

Video

Personal Shopper


King Ghost


Eminent Sleaze


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Comments

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    This will take a lot of listens to appreciate it. I absolutely don't have a problem with Wilson going into yet another musical direction. For me, To The Bone is his best work to date, and that's a pop album - but a very clever pop album with incredible songs. My main gripe with The Future Bites right now is that I simply don't like the songs (apart from Self and Personal Shopper, of which I made an edited version in order to cut out the boring middle part) that much. I hope that after a couple of listens, something will click.
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    This album clicked immediately for me. The production and mix is outstanding )as you'd expect) but it's the songs for me. Deep, clear, powerful, memorable and technical. They are challenging and yet catchy and the while thing hangs together remarkably well.

    Loads of folk will hate it, which is fair enough. This is not prog and he doesn't pretend it is, but it's bloody well excellent (to me anyway) nonetheless.
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    edited February 1
    Tip top album - done a review for Amazon but it ain't up yet. It just flows from start to finish. It might be seen as a departure true, but I also feel it is more a return to some of his roots, parts particularly remind me of Flowermouth era No-Man. Some mid point PTree too. I think there was a sign post where his head was at with the last No-Man release. I have played this album more times than any of his others in a similar post release timeframe. It's like SW has deconstructed his sound and has rebuilt it - I think is what I said. Love it.
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    I also just got my version on white vinyl, lovely packaging but I was dead surprised and somewhat chuffed as it came with a single sided same size card reproduction of the album cover that was signed.
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    edited February 4
    Yeah but I'm a victim of the whole concept of the album, do I really need the box set AND the vinyl. :)
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    I don't need both.

    I mean, I have both (the vinyl as the Tour Edition for the 7" single) but I don't need them...
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    Ah I didn't get the tour one - too expensive on ebay/discogs - I didn't pre order any tickets so didn't get the offer. You do need them - you've worked very hard this year and deserve them =)
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    I managed to nab a Tour Edition for £25 buy it now from eBay! Not really sure the guy knew the difference, but I'm not complaining.

    Now all I need is a can of The Future Bites fresh air and I'm all set! B)
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    I see that the album has debuted at number 2 in the official UK album chart.
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    The push behind the album has been huge and it's great to see it paying off.

    It's also interesting that I've now had one or two of my musical mates who are into 'proper' prog be desperate to tell me that Mr Wilson is the devil incarnate! lol!!
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    TV adverts...the lot. Can`t wait to see him perform this live. I`ve got tickets for this coming September...fingers crossed.
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    edited February 6
    You know I've never seen him solo yet - I saw P. Tree. I should really get my backside in gear but I guess I'm not a huge gig goer these days. Except for maybe local bands - but that died last year!
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    I've got tickets for September as well, which are and will remain the only gig tickets I've shelled out for during lockdown/pandemic (I do have loads from cancelled shows bought prior though...)..

    Seen him three times solo - once each on his last three album tours. I also saw Porcupine Tree three times as well. Funnily, the first time me and a mate went to see them on the Deadwing tour I thought he was a huge fan and was just tagging along and he thought I was a huge fan and was just tagging along.Turned out neither of us even had one of their albums! We only discovered this as we were driving through to the gig! Both of us were utterly blown away and I've been a Wilson acolyte ever since.

    I must admit that I'm completely sucked in by his whole thing. Just had the latest Electronic Sound Magazine delivered today, which comes packaged as though it's a Future Bites product and with an exclusive red vinyl 7" single with exclusive mixes of King Ghost and Eminent Sleaze. I am the consumer!

    https://www.roughtrade.com/gb/electronic-sound/issue-73-with-steven-wilson-7/magazine?channable=409d926964003330303631385c&gclid=Cj0KCQiAmfmABhCHARIsACwPRACTPMJyipTSiw5HsJOV0asrOOBGA8ivkM2KnqnhTuZ6AWTwEb2xl48aAjawEALw_wcB
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    edited February 6
    Hahaha - great story - First time I saw them was on the Deadwing Tour as well at Manchester Academy - Robert Fripp was support. My mate who I went with had already seen them a few times and warned me that P. Tree fans are " strange lot - very obsessive, they turn up with the most obscure recordings to try and get signed". Little was I to know that a some of it would rub off on me hahaha!
    I noticed the Electronic Sound Mag at the Burning Shed store but in the end passed on it, then when I decided I might like it - it had sold out - haha - ah well. It's already started turning up on eBay at daft prices.
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    It wasn't Fripp in Glasgow. I'll need to look through my list to see who supported that night.

    Yes, the PTree and Wilson fans can be a strange and very insular lot. I mean, don't try dissing the guy in their earshot!

    I'm not too obsessive with buying all the product and songs from many bands/artists these days but do make the exception for Wilson (although Bass Communion is a step too far for me) and Ginger Wildheart/The Wildhearts. I did used to be like that with KISS (my collection of their stuff is pretty daft) but recent years has turned that into a nonsense with loads of product but no new music, so I stopped.

    Hate to say but the remix of King Ghost with the magazine is my favourite. It's like Steven Wilson running headlong into the Stranger Things OST! The magazine itself, which music style wise doesn't do much else for me, is really beautifully put together and very eclectic in its news (not all music related) and outlook. Very impressed.
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    I’m pretty sure Fripp supported P.Tree on the Incident tour, I was there anyway, and it was 40 minutes of guitar noodling that’s all. My memory is getting a bit hazy these days though, so I might be mistaken.
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    edited February 7
    Maybe it was Fripp and his "Frippertronics" with another band then - but I can't imagine another band I would have seen him with, I didn't go to see them on The Incident tour - just the Deadwing tour - it might have been the second leg of it, in fact I'm sure I only ever went to see them once - I'll have to dig out my ticket.
    Bass Communion - I quite like got a lot of that stuff - and also Continuum, I also have the nice little IEM box set. It's a case of just picking stuff up as it came along. There's plenty of oddities I have missed out on.
    I kind of grew into P.Tree I was more into No-Man and associated bands like Samuel Smiles, Alias Grace, Peter Chilvers, Michael Bearpark e.t.c. I was late to the party when it came to P. Tree grabbing In Absentia when it came out to find out what the fuss was about - strangely bought as a U.S. CD import for some reason - after that I was hooked. It reminds me of the birth of my son as after a long day/night at hospital in 2002, I finally headed home and I had the CD in the car playing.
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    That's a very cool memory to associate with the album Nick!

    I've just had a look at my gig-list and it was Anathema who supported in Glasgow on Deadwing but I'm 99% sure they didn't do the whole tour. I must admit that I have zero memory of them on stage or what they played. Either they were thoroughly underwhelming or PTree were so good that they simply dominate my thoughts from that night. I remember completely 'losing myself' during "Lazarus".

    Both myself and my mate ran off to the merch stall at the end of the night and bought Deadwing on CD and t-shirts (which has been binned now because I was a big lad back then).

    I've recently/still am thinning my CD collection a little (a couple of hundred from a few thousand, so not even really a dent) and sold my Bass Communion CDs then. It did hurt a little but even with my SW collecting head on, I don't connect with them, so why keep it I suppose? I may regret it in years to come.

    That said, I have gone back and sourced most PTree releases (and spent a fortune) from singles to early promo discs (and bought the recent 13CD Delirium years box) and have snapped up as much SW as possible too but he puts out a lot of bits and pieces, so I don't have it all by any means, I'd guess. I do also make an effort to pull in the Blackfield and NoMan stuff that he's on and I like the IEM box (which is cool) and have bought little things like the 'GOD' vinyl that came out recently with early stuff on it. It really is quite the addiction and Burning Shed are very much feeding that habit!
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    edited February 9
    Here's one - the plumber we use to annually service/fix our boiler and things like that is called Steven Wilson. =)
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    Hey there DarkBlue - not sure if you are aware but the owner of the £10,000 - copy of 1 boxset has allowed for the download of the exclusive track The Tastemaker for free (FLAC or MP3) it's in this link - there's a video of him opening the box set as well.

    https://alanlastufka.com/2021/02/10/steven-wilson-tastemaker-free-mp3-flac-download-streaming-audio/
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    Hey Nick. Not sure how I missed your posts... That plumber of yours. I'm guessing his old boiler work was much better than his current boiler work, no? lol!!

    Thanks for the heads up on The Taskmaster. I'd actually watched the guy's unboxing video on youtube before and subscribed when he said that he would share the exclusive content - what a guy! His unboxing vid was excellent, especially seeing as he hadn't opened it prior to recording. His excitement was infectious and the video was great fun because of that.

    The Taskmaster has been dowloaded here (the video the guy made was pretty good and very much in keeping with the whole TFB campaign) and I'm very much enjoying it. Real kudos to the guy for sharing it!

    Myself and Peter Pardo did a SW/TFB video for the Sea of Tranquility YT channel and fair to suggest I'm taking some heat for my Wilson love! haha!
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